mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Friday, January 12, 2007

iWant an iPhone and iDon't know why...

I spent my lunch break on Wednesday with a coworker, huddled around the 30" display that's hooked up to a quad-core Mac Pro in our High End Lab (aka HEL) watching the macrumors coverage of the Macworld conference and the release of the AppleTV and iPhone.

I'm not terribly excited about AppleTV. I was surprised by the numbers cited in the presentation of how many people there were using iTunes, especially for TV shows and movies. While I use iTunes the software to play music on my two main machines at home and to manage my Nano, I've never bought anything from the store - most of my music is aquired from, umm, other means. I also already have a device that does what the AppleTV does - a GoVideo streaming DVD player that I bought a few years back for <$100 and upgraded the firmware on so it can play DivX. I haven't used it since I moved, because I haven't gotten it to work wirelessly (not that I've put much time into it) and I don't feel like running cable from my router upstairs to my living room downstairs. But if you are a hardcore iTunes user, it's not a bad product.

The iPhone is a different story. I really want one, which is odd, because I hate all-in-one phones. Right now I have two phones - my work phone is a Nextel Blackberry 7250 and my "home" personal cell is a Verizon LG VX8100. I use the blackberry primarily for email and work-related chirps, and the LG for personal calls - I haven't even bothered to flash it to make use of it's MP3 capabilities, and I almost never use the camera on it. I pretty much want a phone to be a phone.

But the iPhone looks cool - it has a hell of a display, and the multitouch screen is awesome - you can "pinch" stuff onscreen to resize. The fact that it has Safari - a real web browser, even though I don't think it's as good as Firefox or Camino - is a huge plus, as is being able to connect to wifi. The fact that it works with any POP email account is great, and the "visual voicemail" where you can skip voicemails onscreen is awesome - I get a lot of vm's from automated dialing things that I would love to easily delete. The MP3 capability doesn't mean much to me - I use my Nano mostly at the gym, and I can't imagine taking a fragile $600 device with me to the gym and risking crushing it.

Which brings me to the disadvantages - the high price (although not hugely out of line for a smartphone, but still way higher than many after promotions) and the fact that it's only available on Cingular for the next couple years (I was briefly a Cingular customer when Cellular One got bought out back around 2001, and I was less than impressed). Plus, I'd be kind of scared I'd break or scratch the thing (while I might complain about my blackberry, it has an uncanny ability to survive being thrown against a concrete wall multiple times, or so I've heard...)

I'm already trying to convince my boss that I need one of these so I can support them in case any of our Mac users get them. We'll see. If I can get work to pay for one I'd be all over it, but I wouldn't buy one myself. I'm wondering if that's going to be fairly typical, and it might be the stumbling block for Apple/Cingular. Blackberry and Treo devices were sucessful because businesses bought them because they are great at email and as PDA's - the camera/web browser/music features were secondary. The iPhone is a phone/entertainment device, so busineses are probably going to be more reluctant to spend that much money on their employees when a big chunk of the cost is for features, like 4gb of MP3 storage on flash memory, that don't have a business purpose. I'm guessing a lot of those fancy phones were paid for by businesses, and that they won't be buying iPhones for their employees. Just the fact that it's an Apple product may be a disadvantage for some corporate IT departments, who often run scared from Apple products (except for those wierdos in PR or Advertising).

So I think it's an awesome product, but I don't know if it will quite be the sales success that Apple is hoping for.


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